What is this strange entanglement of living energies that we call sexual congress? One reason there are many answers to this question is that what we usually think of as “sex” is just one of eight possible patterns of the cosmic superimposition of life forms. Why eight, exactly? Well, since this is to be primarily an essay on sex, I will try not to dwell too extensively on theoretical metaphysics, but I must briefly introduce the subject:
The numbers of mathematics are the clearest and most wonderful symbols for the principle mysteries of the cosmos. This was realized by Pythagoras, and represents his most important contribution to the history of ideas. To illustrate the idea very simply, I supply the mathematical images suggested by Pythagoras: the number one: a point; the number two: a line; the number three: a plane (triangle); the number four: a solid (pyramid). To these four, I add the number five: movement.
One: the undivided whole; two: the distinction between subject and object; three: a point of perspective between subject and object that establishes a field of energy; four: the emergence into manifest reality (Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter); five: the process of change.
That's enough to work with. Now imagine an image that includes all of these primary ideas: a field of energy divided into two parts, joined through one point (“That which is above corresponds to that which is below.” -- from The Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus).
At this level, the phenomenon of sex is illuminated as a set of four choices (expressed in the I Ching, a binary system, as: young yang: +o, old yang: ++, young yin: o+, old yin: oo). (Note: readers familiar with the I Ching will readily recognize my adaptation of the images. The conventional designs may be seen in the illustration that follows.) I will omit any discussion of these first four forms because I prefer to use the more entertaining patterns that form when a third line is introduced. Three lines produce eight trigrams, and produce a set of patterns most suitable to an analysis of the possible patterns of sexual relationship. The first and third line may represent the Subject and Object of an encounter, and the third line in the middle introduces the value of the charge: positive or negative.
The first pattern (Chên) is an active subject attacking or pursuing a passive, defending, or fleeing object. Sexually, this is aggression or sadism; as a perversion it is when the infliction of pain or suffering is perceived as pleasurable.
The second pattern (Li) is an active subject in conflict with an active object. Sexually, this is simply fighting. Ever notice the similarity between wrestling and sex? Because of the warped nature of our society, a great many people are conditioned to obtain their sexual gratification from some form of fighting.
The third pattern (Tui) is an active subject offering loving service to a passive or retreating object (boy chases girl, who runs away). Sexually, this is simply love that is not returned, although it may be accepted. If it were not accepted, the pattern would more resemble the first pattern, above.
The fourth pattern (Ch'ien) may be the only one easily recognizable as sex: both subject and object actively expressing love for each other. This is the creative act, which can result in the creation of new life.
The fifth pattern (Sun) is similar to the third, with positions reversed: the subject is passive, receiving the loving attentions of the devoted object.
The sixth pattern (K'an) is characteristic of the latter stages of the life cycle of a field of energy: there is a bond of “love” between subject and object, but neither one is actively expressing any energy.
The seventh pattern (Kên) is the opposite of the first: it is the passive subject that is subjected to the negative energy of the active object. Sexually, this is masochism, where the subject obtains pleasure being the object of negative attention.
The eighth pattern (K'un) is not, strictly speaking, a variation of sexual possibility at all: it is the absence of sex; there is no contact at all between subject and object.
Obviously this catalogue is greatly oversimplified; however, it provides a framework by which we can discuss the merits of any particular sexual activity. We can make a distinction, for example, between the actual forms, and projections of those forms in fantasy. Consensual role playing between sadists and masochists can be a harmless way to experience an unusual source of sexual excitement; actually deriving pleasure from inflicting real pain or suffering upon another life is a criminal act. A game such as football or chess is a harmless ventilation of aggressive energy. Actual warfare is a regrettable lapse into barbarity, above which civilization strives to ascend.
We take the position that love is wonderful stuff, and that we can all use as much of it as we can get. All alliances based on expressions of love will have positive effects, regardless of the forms, the genders, or the ages of the love makers. Expressions of hostility in any form or for whatever reason can have problematic consequences, and anyone caught up in a web of hostility should try to evolve towards a transcendence of that web of darkness into the light of love.